Ironman Louisville - Triathlon

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Louisville, Kentucky
United States
World Triathlon Corporation
Total Time = 14h 07m 48s
Overall Rank = 1491/2600
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 196/400
Pre-race routine:

My wife and I arrived in Louisville on Thursday evening so we would have a few days to see some of the city, enjoy the IM festivities, and have plenty of time to see the course. I got checked in on Friday and drove out to the out and back section of the course to see the hills I had heard some much about. I even took my bike with me and rode this section Friday afternoon just to get a feel for it under my legs.

Saturday I went to the swim preview just to get a feel for the water. Anyone who says Louisville doesn't have the washing machine water start never went to the preview swim. I swam about 10 minutes and felt like I had gone a few rounds with a UFC fighter. Luckily the actual swim was much better. The remainder of Saturday was spent checking in the bike and the transition bags. This just left me to try to get some sleep before the big day.
Event warmup:

I decided to sleep in a little longer than many because the swim was the one leg of the three that worried me the least. The alarm went off at 5:15 and it was time for the butterflies to really start. It was tough to realize that the better part of the last 2 years were spent in some form of traning and this was the culmination. I slept relatively well considering how anxious I was but it was still a pretty restless night. At 5:15 I was up and ready to get moving. I got dressed, drank my breakfast calories (my stomach is too knotted to eat solids so I use Boost as a great breakfast drink) and headed over to transition about 5:45. I loaded my bottles, pumped up the tires, and it was time to head over to swim start.

I knew it was about a mile from transition to the swim start but no one told me it would be another mile to the back of the swim line (this is no exageration.) I was finally able to find the back of the swim line and planted myself down for the wait. 5 minutes later we heard the cannon boom for the pro start and shortly after our line started inching forward. At 7am the line started moving pretty quickly and it was time to put it all together.
  • 1h 02m 13s
  • 4156 yards
  • 01m 30s / 100 yards

Swimming has always been my strongest discipline since I was a competitive swimmer from about 10 years old. Everyone I talked to in advance of the race talked about how nice the time trial start was to the race but in my particular case it was not as nice as others said it would be. I hit the water just after 7:30 and started a nice, smooth stroke. 2 feet later I was onto the back of the guy who jumped in the river before me and decided to stop instead of start swimming. After clearing him it was another 15 feet of clear water until I hit the next swimmer who was making little to no forward progress. This basically gives you an idea of the next 30 minutes or so if my race. From the start dock to the first turn buoy it was very congested and nearly impossible to pass someone without running into someone else. I just kept telling myself to maintain focus, keep a steady pace when I could and not worry about the time I was losing.

At the first turn buoy everyone stopped completely. I looked up and the police boat was coming over to help someone out of the water. Everyone behind that point had to completely stop until the boat was able to move out of the way. This actually helped my swim. After the boat bunched everyone up I was able to get out ahead of the group and find free water. The swim down the river was nice and fast with very little interuption. I felt like I was moving at a good clip and not fighting anyone around me.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing much. A mass start would suit my swim strength but I was not going to be in line at 4:45 am to get an early swim start time on this one.
Transition 1
  • 09m 27s

An hour after hitting the water I was up and out the other side. I decided to walk the transition to keep my HR under control. I made my way to the tents and a volunteer had my bag waiting on me. I was walking to the changing tent when I noticed most men were actually changing outside of the tent. I was not changing shorts so I opted for the outside aproach as well. The tents were very warm and crowded so sitting on the soft grass was nice. I took my time to make sure I had everything and then made my way to my bike. I grabbed my bike and headed to the bike out.
What would you do differently?:

  • 6h 21m 5s
  • 112 miles
  • 17.62 mile/hr

Wow! The IMLOU bike course is what it is. I am fortunate enough to live in the foothills of SC so I can mimic the bike rolling hills and the humid heat that Louisville is famous for. I would say my training came in very handy.

I went out very easy on the first 10 miles of flat lands heading out of the city. The roads were very crowded so you had to keep your head up and stay alert. There were people bombing out of town like their hair was on fire and there were those like me who were doing the Sunday stroll. After the 10 flat miles we started climbing. These climbs were not terribly steep but they were enough to get your heart rate elevated. I plugged away in the easiest gear I felt comfortable using and did my best to save the legs for later. These hills turn out to be the worst hills on the course because they are not rolling hills. This portion is more of a climb and a flat portion, rinse, repeat.

About 15 miles into the course is the famous "out and back." This section consists of a few miles of flat road followed by a very steep downhill section that turns directly into a very steep uphill section. Each hill is almost exaclty a mile in length. My biggest advice to anyone doing this race in the future is "don't be stupid on the downhill!" This is not the time to go 45mph in aero for the first time in your life. You will not win the race on this section but you could not only mess up your race and your bike, you could mess up the rest of your life on this section. I sat up, stayed right, and was not afraid to ride the brakes when necessary down the hill. We hit the bottom of the hill and started the climb up the other side. The goal here was to keep the HR as low as possible. I hit the granny gear and started my spin up the other side.

About halfway up my climb out we saw the remnants of a horrific crash coming back down the hill on the other side. I saw a rider on a back board, full neck brace, bleeding from everywhere on his head, being loaded onto an EMS gator in the middle of the road. This was yet another reminder that I was here to finish the race, not be a hero. I spend the rest of my climb keeping it in the granny gear and trying to warn the riders coming down the hill the other way to slow down because of the crash. As we neared the top of the hill I saw another rider lose control going down the other way and have to lay his bike down. Luckily I think this one was relatively ok but it was still a scary sight.

I hit the turn around at the top of the hill and started back down. Again, I kept it to the right and used as much brake as necessary. We hit the bottom without incident and shifted to the granny gear to head back up the other side. Once the out and back was over it felt like a huge accomplishment because you knew the steepest of the hills were over. However, there were quite a few climbs still coming our way.

This took us to the lollypop portion of the course. This section is a good mix of rolling hills with some flat land mixed in. It took us out through the city of La Grange which was a really cool atmosphere. The town came out in full force to see us ride through and cheer us on. Otherwise it was about a 30 mile loop that you repeated once you got back to the start.

After the second loop it was a nice ride back to town. This was definitely my favorite portion because all of those hills you climbed in the first 15 miles or so were now downhills.

I will give a few notes about the ride: The course was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be. I knew the first 20-30 miles would be crowded but I anticipated it clearing out after 30 miles or so. It did thin out some after the first 30 miles but it was never really clear. There were always riders ahead and behind. With that said, I never saw any blatant drafting going on. The marshalls were out and I saw them at least 6 times but I never saw a penalty given. I did see a few people in the penalty tents but for the most part I just saw them give a hand warning that the bike distance needed to be at least 4 lengths and someone may have had 3 instead of 4.

The aid stations were very well organized and the volunteers were knowledgeable. They knew how to hold the bottles, how to best hand them off, and they were ready and positioned each time I needed one. I actually made it through each aid station taking 2 bottles of water at each station with no bottle drops or dangerous volunteers.
What would you do differently?:

I think next time I would race with a power meter instead of just HR because it was impossible to keep the HR below z3 on some of the big hills. I think power would have been a better indicator on a course like this.
Transition 2
  • 09m 55s

I rolled into T2 and handed my bike to a catcher. Then I walked to my bag as I had promised myself I would do before the race. This time I found a chair in the changing tent to put on my run gear. I did have an awesome volunteer fill up my bottles with cold water while I got the rest of my gear on.
What would you do differently?:

This transition took longer than it needed to but I still had a marathon to go. Why be in a rush, right?
  • 6h 25m 8s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 14m 43s  min/mile

As pretty and scenic as the bike course was, the run course was not! It was a 2 loop out and back course that was pretty close to pancake flat. I started running in the heat of the day and I knew if I went out too hard it would mean big issues later on the run. I started out with a 2 min run 1 min walk pace but quickly decided a 1 to 1 ratio was much more sustainable. I maintained the 1 to 1 for the entire first loop. It didn't do anything to really help my time, but it did split up the distances in my head and kept me from just thinking about mile markers that never seemed to come.

The turn around may be the cruelest thing int he whole race. You run within 1 block of the finish and they veer you off to the right for another 13 miles of suffering.

The second loop was all about survival. I decided to walk most of this loop. My goal when I started was just to finish and I knew I had plenty of time for that. I also was AMAZED at the number of people, almost all men who were much stronger and fitter than me, laid out on the side the road. It was the closest thing to a war zone I hope I will ever see. The hardest part was the guy I saw rolling on the ground and throwing up on the side of the road at mile 23. I could have pushed the run a little harder but it would have been a very thin line before I became that guy.

I walked until the last aid station which was about half a mile from the finish. At this point I knew I had it and jogged it to the line.
What would you do differently?:

honestly, nothing. At the end of the run I heard "Keith King, you are an IRONMAN!" That was my goal from the start.
Post race
Warm down:

I walked around, got some pizza and chocolate milk, had my free massage, and tried to keep moving.

Event comments:

For anyone thinking about this race I would say it is worth it. I had plently of people warn me that it was too tough for a first time race but as long as you put in the training, know your abilities and limitations, and race within yourself you will be fine. Louisville does an amazing job with support and volunteers and the city is a pretty cool place to visit.

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Last updated: 2012-11-08 12:00 AM
01:02:13 | 4156 yards | 01m 30s / 100yards
Age Group: 30/400
Overall: 250/2600
Performance: Good
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 82F / 28C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 09:27
Performance: Good
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
06:21:05 | 112 miles | 17.62 mile/hr
Age Group: 126/400
Overall: 891/2600
Performance: Good
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 09:55
Overall: Average
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:25:08 | 26.2 miles | 14m 43s  min/mile
Age Group: 196/400
Overall: 1491/2600
Performance: Below average
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]